Vanthoor, Weerts secure GTWCE Sprint title for WRT Audi

Third in the opening one-hour encounter, which was won by AF Corse Ferrari pairing Pierre-Alexandre Jean and Ulysse de Pauw, was enough to secure the crown, while a thrilling final-lap victory on Sunday put the icing well and truly on the cake.

Coming into the last Sprint Cup round of the season in Spain, Weerts and Vanthoor held an 11.5-point margin over the Akkodis ASP Mercedes duo of Raffaele Marciello and Timur Boguslavskiy. The maths was simple enough: score six points more than the #89 and the title was theirs once again.

Their cause was helped considerably in qualifying as Weerts was second fastest with the Ferrari of De Pauw taking pole. Boguslavskiy suffered a nightmare session, initially finishing 16th before being demoted to 20th after the stewards deemed that he blocked another car.

If there was one moment which could have complicated matters for the #32, it was at the start as Weerts got gobbled up by the chasing pack of Simon Gachet (Tresor Audi) and Dennis Lind (JP Motorsport McLaren). Nearly the entire field ran wide on the exit of turn one, which allowed Weerts back into third by turn two. From there, the #32 held station until the pitstop window as Vanthoor took over.

Further back, Boguslavskiy made good progress to run 16th after an early safety car following an incident for the Dinamic Porsche of Adrian de Leneer.

Marciello took over at the pitstops in 15th place and produced a typically aggressive charge in the second stint to finish eighth on the road, upgraded to seventh after Lind and Vincent Abril were handed a 10-second penalty.

Start action

Photo by: SRO

The one constant in the one-hour race was the winning pairing of De Pauw and Jean, who never looked threatened throughout. De Pauw skipped away at the start, building a gap of over three seconds before the pit window opened. Gachet’s team-mate Christopher Haase reduced that gap to nothing in the second stint, but the Ferrari was the car to beat.

Overnight rain made sure Sunday’s second race started in wet conditions, but any concerns that it was going to be nothing more than a dead rubber were put to rest as Weerts and Vanthoor judged a tire gamble to perfection.

The #32 started alongside Marciello, who stuck his Merc on pole in the morning, but lost out to the Sainteloc Audi of Patric Niederhauser at the first turn.

In traffic, visibility was poor but over the course of the opening stint, a dry line was slowly beginning to appear. This was what WRT had been waiting for and, when Vanthoor and Marciello made their compulsory stops at the end of the window, the Audi switched to slicks. Weerts initially shipped multiple positions and half a minute as Boguslavskiy stayed on wets, marginally ahead of Aurelien Panis’s Sainteloc Audi.

The latter pair were nose-to-tail on the final lap, but Weerts was lapping faster. In the last two laps, the Audi took 14 seconds out of the leader and rounded the hapless Boguslavskiy for the lead three corners from the end to score an incredible last-gasp victory.

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